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Carmen M. Fuentes-Griffith, a recently retired educator, is now serving as the Director of the Ministerial Spouse Association and  Women’s Ministries in the Southwestern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Carmen and the love of her life, Buddy, have three children and four grandchildren.
Divinely Favored (pdf)                          

To say that I am “Divinely favored” is an understatement. When I compare where I am now in my life to where I began, it simply is astonishing to see how God has led.

I was born on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. We lived with my paternal grandmother who was a staunch Adventist. For the first five years of my life I lived on the island; however, my father decided to move to the United States for better financial possibilities. We moved to Brooklyn, New York, and lived there until I was 12 years old. Leaving the city, as Ellen White instructed, we moved to Buffalo, New York and later to Rochester, New York.

Dad worked hard in New York and planted many new Hispanic churches. He preached, Mom did the bible work, and I played the piano for services. He worked as a lay pastor without pay. Because of all of the trials I saw my parents go through, I vowed that I would never marry a minister. I wanted a mansion with a pool, and being a pastor’s wife was not going to get that for me. Dad wanted me to be like Ellen White and I did everything I could to be the opposite. He would say, “Carmen, you need to marry a minister.” To that, I would answer, “Not in this life!” But God has a sense of humor and had other plans.

I matriculated at Oakwood College and met a wonderful man, Buford Griffith, Jr. He became best friend.  I liked him even more because he was a science major-not theology. He was actually my “knight in shining armor” that came and rescued me from the “fire-breathing dragon”–my dad. Four years later we were married and then God continued to work out His plan.

We moved to Germantown, Ohio, where we attended a little church on the hill. We loved it! We sang, worshiped, and learned to love God richly. Grandma and Grandpa Wright would teach us how to give bible studies. We would turn around and give the bible study to a seeking couple that came to our church. After all was said and done, they were baptized. Because of the training, souls came to love God.

Then the dreams began. I would dream of seeing Buddy, my husband, preaching to a multitude. I could not see their faces in my dream but they were there. I would wake up in a cold sweat and thank the Lord that it was just a nightmare. But the dreams continued. A year later the conference moved our pastor, and my husband was asked to take care of the church until a pastor could be assigned. Buddy was a board certified Medical Technologist, but God began to put on his heart a desire to do more for Him. He found himself preaching on Sabbath, visiting the sick and shut-in, and making sure our church flourished.

One Sabbath the President of the conference, Elder H. L. Cleveland, came to visit our church and asked that Buddy and I come to his home for a meeting. In my heart I knew what was coming. I settled in my mind that I would not object or fuss.

My husband was asked to come into the ministry full-time and spend the summer with E. E. Cleveland, training in evangelism. All I could say was: “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.” A couple of years later, he was assigned to pastor the Bethel SDA Church. As we walked into the church that first Sabbath, my knees almost buckled. There in front of my eyes was the church that God had shown me in the dream. No doubt about it, my husband, Buddy, had been called and chosen by God. And because he was called and chosen, so was I.

That was over 30 years ago. We worked together in the Allegheny West Conference where we served 6 beautiful churches and baptized hundreds of souls. I taught school and I know that each time we moved, the Lord was in it. I would go and apply for a teaching position in the city that Buddy was assigned and almost hired on the same day. Throughout the years, I have never wanted for a job. The Lord has always provided. I taught for 41 years and touched the lives of hundreds of children. In 1998, Buddy was asked to come to the Southwestern Union Conference. We were so humbled. Now Buddy is the Executive Secretary of the Union with added Family Ministries responsibilities. I retired from teaching two years ago. But God has given me a more fruitful responsibility. I am the Women’s Ministries Director for our Union with the added passion of working closely with the Ministerial Spouses.

No, I did not get my pool or mansion. But God has promised me a mansion in heaven built by His own hands. I have a wonderful husband who loves me, and three beautiful children, four absolutely fantastic grandchildren, and a granddog who adore me. God chose and called Buddy, and so was I. Let’s face it – I am “Divinely favored.”